Some say that, if he was alive today, Shakespeare would have become a film director. With the permission of the critics, if he had been born in the 1980s, he would be a blogger. And not just a run-of-the-mill blogger, but a successful one with hundreds of thousands of followers. And that´s because the great English bard (1564-1616) was an artist of his time, a shrewd master of words. He exploited the possibilities of theatre, like we all know, but his sonnets are of memorable beauty (well, let´s say worthy of the top ten ones in world literature). The thing is the Shakespeare didn´t really invent, understanding by invent its current meaning. His plays (from King Lear to Hamlet as well as Romeo and Juliet) already existed in previous compendia. However, he retook this tradition (interdiscursivity it´s called), shaped it, changed it, transformed it and placed the right words so that it didn´t lose a bit of its dramatic tension.
Although news keeps coming in about places where the English playwright premiered (the latest just a few months ago), we have to take into account that theatres, as we know them today, didn´t exist back then. The venues were improvised in any place (in a patio, on the street or in the court) and the stages (like the Noh Theatre in Japan) were almost empty. Also, the female characters were played by men (it also happened in Japanese drama) and the shows had to be profitable in the box office. However, with all of these conditions, Shakespeare built a play that, according to Harold Bloom in his ´Western Canon´, puts words to all human feelings.
Anyhow, with conditioning similarities that have been taking place since 1954, a date with Shakespeare in Central Park in New York has been taking place every summer. This year it´s a double: As You Like It from the 5th to the 30th of June and Into the Woods from the 23rd of July until the 25th of August. Tickets are free, would you believe, although you do have to book in advance, and the plays are at the Delacorte Theatre at 8pm. All the details to bear in mind (summer storms, green area opening times, etc, etc.) are published on the webpage of the organization: http://www.shakespeareinthepark.org/
The glamorous part of this show comes by the hand of a gala representation dinner and incredibly high prices in order to gather funds for the association. This year it was attended by Meryl Streep and hosted by an actor so linked to Shakespeare as is Al Pacino. Have you seen his performance in the Michael Radford film The Merchant of Venice? If not, you have to, it´s quite simply extraordinary.
You have to get some apartments in New york that are close to Central Park and enjoy one of these free play. A book with Shakespeare´s played (I´ll have ´Macbeth´) will complete the rest of the experience.